Elderly expats to lose winter fuel allowance

British expats living in a number of European countries are set to lose their winter fuel allowance as of next year.

EU rules allow elderly expats who can demonstrate that they have a ‘genuine link’ with the UK to claim at least £200 winter fuel allowance to heat their home, even if they don’t live in Britain. Reports suggest that the British government is spending around £22 million a year on winter fuel allowances for people living elsewhere in Europe – even though some don’t need to heat their homes.

Now, under new legislation which is due to be passed next week, a ‘temperature test’ will be introduced to curb the handouts given to expats living in a number of countries,  including Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain. Those who live in a country – or part of a country – where the temperature does not commonly fall below a certain level, will all lose the right to claim for the allowance from September 2015.

It is expected that payments will be halted to expats living in countries where the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK – the South West at 5.6oC.

According to the Daily Mail, in 2002-03, a mere 8,000 people in 16 countries claimed for the allowance at a total cost of £1 million. But by winter of 2013-14 a total of 135,285 people in 30 countries received £133million.

This included 50,000 people in Spain, 30,000 in France, 3,300 in Portugal, 8,000 in Cyprus and 2,000 in Greece.

The handouts will still be available to people in 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Article published 31st December 2014